Tesla May Seek Federal Funds To Open Supercharger Network To Public

As many folks in the EV community have been suggesting for some time, the timing related to Tesla’s announcement to open its Supercharger network to non-Tesla electric car owners coordinated nicely with the Biden Administration’s new EV charging infrastructure plans. Now, it appears Tesla is hoping to take advantage of upcoming federal funds related to electric vehicle charging.

Since Tesla’s Supercharger network is proprietary, and only Tesla owners can currently use it, it doesn’t qualify for federal funds. However, in recent comments shared with the Federal Highway Administration, it seems Tesla is willing to open up its network to the public if it gets a portion of the $7.5 billion that’s set aside for US charging infrastructure development and deployment. According to Green Car Reports, E&E News Energy Wire first shared news related to Tesla’s comments.

Tesla is already working on making its DC fast charging network available to all EVs, and it will likely benefit financially. In addition, since non-Tesla EV owners will have to download the Tesla app, and may eventually use the vast network for charging, it could convince them to consider a Tesla EV going forward. On the flip side, it could convince EV owners that they no longer need a Tesla vehicle since they can use the network with their non-Tesla electric car.

Tesla started a pilot program allowing other EVs to charge on its Supercharger network in parts of Europe. The company has also mentioned that it will open up the network to the public in the US at a later date. However, this new information suggests that it may be waiting for approval to get the federal rebates. According to E&E News, one of Tesla’s comments to the Federal Highway Administration reads:

“Tesla or CHAdeMO connectors should be eligible for rebates as long as there is a CCS connector at the location for every rebated Tesla or CHAdeMO connector.”

While it appears that Tesla may be hoping the Administration will offer it rebates, the $7.5 billion is supposed to be for “new” charging infrastructure. Green Car Reports suggests that the plan isn’t intended to “reimburse” charging station owners and operators for existing networks. That said, it would be a “new” network for all non-Tesla EV owners, and Tesla is building “new” Supercharger stations on a continuous basis.

Some critics will certainly push back against Tesla’s potential attempt to get a piece of the federal funding, especially since CEO Elon Musk continues to voice his opposition to incentives. However, he has made it very clear that he’s primarily opposed to rebates when they create an uneven playing field. Moreover, there may not be a quicker and more efficient way to immediately make a multitude of DC fast charging stations readily available to all EV owners in the US.

This is a developing story. Details are still unclear, so we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. However, in the meantime, we’d love to get your take on this. Do you think Tesla should get some of the federal funds? Leave us a comment.

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